No one was injured following a fire at the Terrace Paving asphalt plant on Wednesday evening. A large oil-storage tank was exposed to 12 to 15-foot flames coming from an oil heater used to keep the asphalt inside fluid. (Lynn Parker photo)

Thornhill firefighters respond to fire at Terrace asphalt paving plant

Firefighters arrived on scene to discover an oil heater ablaze

No injuries were reported following the spectacular fire Wednesday evening at the Terrace Paving asphalt plant along Highway 16.

Thornhill Fire Department Chief Rick Boehm said crews responded to a call of a commercial structure fire at 4330 Hwy16 East around 5:20 p.m. on July 11.

Firefighters arrived on scene to discover one of two large oil-storage tanks used for the asphalt-making process was directly exposed to 12 to 15-foot tall flames coming from an oil heater, used to keep the product inside the tanks fluid.

Fire crews extinguished the blaze within 30 minutes using a water-foam mixture before cooling the tanks with 23,300 gallons of water to ensure there was no risk of explosion.

“This is a unique situation, it’s not something that you would encounter. If we see this again in our career, it would be pretty limited,” said Boehm. “It could have been ugly but we were very lucky.”

Hwy 16 was shut down for 30 minutes as crews set up an 800-metre evacuation zone around the area. Terrace RCMP were also called in to help assist with traffic.

Boehm said it’s unknown how the oil heater caught fire in the first place but suspects the gas-fired heater had malfunctioned.

Marko Rutar, area manager for Terrace Paving and Kentron Construction in Kitimat, drove across town to be on site as soon as he heard about the blaze. He said he hadn’t experienced an incident like this in his 30-year career.

“We’re lucky in that the big oil tanks didn’t catch on fire, that would have been a much more serious issue,” Rutar said over the phone. “The fire department did an awesome job getting there quick… keeping the tanks cool before it could get out of control.”

He said the heater can run for extended periods of time but has a temperature gauge to turn the system on and off as needed.

“Obviously it was some sort of electronic failure, but all the evidence has been destroyed. We’ll never really know,” he said.

No staff were on site during the fire as the plant had been closed for that day.

Rutar said another heater will be brought in over the next couple days to replace the damaged unit.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


The Thornhill Fire Department set up an 800-metre evacuation zone around the area until the blaze was under control, shutting down Hwy 16 East for 30 minutes on Wednesday evening. (Lynn Parker photo)

Just Posted

Cullen to fisheries minister: do your job

MP calls for new minister to visit Northwest, see salmon crisis in person

Spirit North funding annoucement now expected any day

Indigenous Services Canada annouces new timeline for funding annoucement

Kitwanga inches closer to ambulance station goal

This year’s Humpy Run raises close to $20,000.

Anglers furious over VIP fishing trip

DFO, SkeenaWild both investigating legality of FN research licence to fishing party

Kool-Aid Man bails on Terrace and Kitimat mayoral race

Says he has accomplished goal of raising electoral awareness

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Most Read